Climbing out of an abyss takes a long time. It entails tearing and scraping in the dirt. My fingernails become filled with soil from clawing and scratching my way out. At times the way is slippery and steep, and it is easy to slide back down uncontrollably. Then I have to start all over again, sometimes from much further down than I thought. It is frustrating and challenging because mostly it is in the dark. The way is lonely and cold with only the tiniest glimmer of light at the top to guide me. When I find myself sliding backwards down the slippery slopes it fills me with despair and longing. Will I ever find my way out? I become exhausted and sit down low in the hole and wait to catch my breath. And then, from somewhere deep inside I gather strength to begin the treacherous climb again. Often fear rises up and blocks the path. It grips at my heart and bites me behind my eyes. I stop dead in my tracks and breathe deeply in and out, out and in, as Swami Ji taught me so long ago. Quite a few friends and mentors, gurus and counselors have reached their arms down to pull me up. Each time I took their hand, I managed to make it closer and closer to the top.
Lately I realized that I am already peering over it. My hands are holding on to the ledge and with one strong swing of my leg I could hoist myself right over the top and stand on the high ground looking out across the vastness of the land. There is so much light everywhere and it feels warm and safe. These last couple of years I have been shedding much baggage along the way. It had been holding me down, pulling me back again and again into some of the deepest, darkest crevices of my abyss. Sacks loaded with feelings of shame and unworthiness. Bags packed with feelings of marginalization and victimization. But it seems that I have been unloading all these packs, leaving bits and pieces down behind me. As I peer down into the darkness, I can almost see their shapes and forms glistening in the rain. How strange. They are so small now. I wonder why they used to scare me so.
Yesterday, at the end of a phone call with my aged mother, there was a pause. And then she stated intentionally and clearly, in a way I had not heard before. "I love you, Tamar," she said. I told her that I loved her too. Shutting down the phone, I went out for my walk in the cold morning air. The sun shone through the bare trees, and on the remaining clumps of snow out in Carpenter Woods along my way. After about half an hour of walking energetically up Wayne's incline, I realized what she had said, and how taken aback I was when she spoke those words so clearly and unconditionally. Indeed, it was as if I had been waiting for them to be spoken exactly like that for a very long time. And when it happened, it felt just right. It was peaceful. I walked along the road bathed in light.
Lately, I have made a number of stands for myself. In the past, this would have terrified me, and I would definitely have stumbled and fallen back down into my abyss. This time, though, with each stand, I seemed to approach the opening of the hole I have been in for what seems like all of my life. With my mother's words to me yesterday, I felt like I was pushed almost right out in the open!
Will 2013 see me actually heave my leg up and over the rim? I wonder. At least now, clearly in front of my eyes, I have an image of what could be. I know what it might feel like - standing tall and strong out in the sunlight looking across the vastness of all the land - a welcomed part of it all, included and belonging, warm and safe. I think I might know what to reach for this time.